Victims of snakebites are flooding treatment centres across the country as the scorching heat forces the reptiles out of their holes into bushes, farms, roads and peoples homes in search of fresh air.
States worst hit include Gombe, Plateau, Borno, Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa and Bauchi, with herders, farmers and rural dwellers mostly the victims.
Our correspondents, who visited some snake treatment centres found that most of the patients were on the floor with medics complaining that facilities were being overstretched.
The situation of the victims appeared worsened by the sharp rise in the cost of the usually imported Anti-Snake Venom (ASV), following the high cost of foreign exchange.
With a vial of the Echitab drugs – the brand of ASV that cures bites from snakes in Nigeria – going for more than N55,000, stakeholders have heightened calls on the Federal Government to support the Echitab Study Group in Nigeria to produce the vaccine locally to lower production cost.
At Snakebites Treatment and Research Centre, Kaltungo in Gombe State, Dr. Sulaiman Mohammed, principal medical officer, said about 300 patients had been admitted from January to date. He attributed the sharp rise in the number of cases to the hot weather.
Giving a breakdown, he said 69 patients were admitted in January while 79 came in February. More than 135 have been admitted in March with the figures increasing by the day.